If you're a struggling Hollywood screenwriter, the gods usually aren't this kind. Early Tuesday morning, seven paintings disappeared from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam: a couple of Monets, a Matisse, a Gaugin, a Picasso – you get the idea. The police showed up five minutes after the gallery's alarm was triggered, by which time the paintings and whoever took them were gone without a trace.
This is the type of story that writes itself: dead of night, high-end art, a seemingly cold trail. And here's the money quote from former Scotland Yard investigator Charles Hill: “The volume suggests that whoever stole it owes somebody a lot of money, and it’s got to be a major-league villain.”
Of course, there's a tremendous loss here: seven master works by some of the western world's most celebrated painters are gone. They were once on public display as shared mementos of a rich cultural heritage, but they are now likely being used as currency for a kingpin in the criminal underworld.
The Kunsthal refuses to divulge exactly how much the paintings were worth, but it's fair to assume that we're talking about many millions of dollars. However, it will be extremely difficult for the thieves to resell such famous works of art.
The museum has said it will reopen on Wednesday.
Read more: The Boston Globe takes a look at five of the most notorious art heists in the last 100 years.
Sources: Huffington Post, New York Times, YouTube, Avaaz, Boston Globe